Following on from the ‘swinging sixties‘ came the ‘punk’ youth culture of the 1970s. Naturally, the aim was to shock the older generation, shake up attitudes and push society in a different direction. The fashion side of the punk movement vies with the music for its powerful, long-lasting influence.
Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010) and Vivienne Westwood (1941-2022) pioneered the fashion style in their boutique in King’s Road, Chelsea. Their product range evolved over the decade from ‘Teddy-Boy’ and biker clothes to bondage gear, anarchist T-shirts and ripped jeans. The T-shirt designs were fully intended to be provocative, bearing swear words, pornography and perverse imagery, such as the Queen with a safety pin through her nose. This, however, did not prevent Westwood being made a Dame in 2006 (having previously been awarded an OBE, in 1992) “for services to fashion”.
Punk fashion, with its studs, body piercings, tattoos, spiked brightly-dyed hair, black eye make-up, rips and random zips, has nevertheless been absorbed into today’s looks. It has come a long way from dresses made of dustbin liners and safety pins, but let it not be said that the fashion industry doesn’t know a brave new innovation when it sees one.
(Top image [cropped]: Stuart Chalmers at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0)